By KAITLYN NAPLES
The ducks coming out of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce have been on parade and hatched, and are ready to be found by explorers. Last year, the chamber announced an initiative meant to boost tourism and market local businesses in Bristol, and member towns, by ordering fiberglass ducks. There are two sizes, and businesses and residents purchased the ducks, which were then painted by local artists, and then put on display.
Now, the “Duck Hunt” has commenced, and it allows families, groups, or just individuals to search for all of the ducks in order to win a prize. Anyone interested can visit the chamber, 200 Main St., Bristol, to pick up a map of where the ducks are. President and CEO of the chamber, Michael Nicastro, said there are 32 ducks dispersed in Bristol, Plainville, Plymouth and Farmington, and participants will search for as many as they can, record the names of the duck and where it was found, and return the form to the chamber for prizes.
“It has been such a fun activity for families to do, and the businesses have gotten the collateral affect of the people traveling to those businesses,” Nicastro said, adding that he has seen many groups of people walking up and down Main Street in Bristol in search of some of the ducks. “The whole goal of this was tourism, and to get people through different places in the city,” as well as in Plainville, Farmington and Plymouth.
Nicastro added that he has heard back from several businesses who have said they have enjoyed more foot traffic into the establishment, even if it is because of the duck.
“The hunt is a way to remind people that the businesses are there,” he said, adding that he couldn’t be happier with they way the entire project has turned out. He said there has been a demand for more ducks by businesses or individuals who didn’t get a chance to purchase one the first time around, so Nicastro said the chamber will end up conducting another round of Ducks on Parade.
In Plainville, “Foster,” which was painted by Clinton Deckert of Southington, stands outside the Connecticut Clearinghouse facility on Farmington Avenue. Connecticut Clearinghouse is a public library and resource center, affiliated with Wheeler Clinic, for information on substance use and mental health disorders, prevention and health promotion, treatment and recovery, wellness and other related topics.
Wendy DeAngelo, chief business development officer for Wheeler Clinic, said the organization thought “the chamber’s idea of bringing public art into the community, to foster the sense of community, was a great thing.”
DeAngelo said the name “Foster” comes from Wheeler’s motto “Fostering positive change,” and he represents “community, recovery and growth, which is what Wheeler is all about.”
Foster gets visitors on a daily basis, DeAngelo said, and he made a “celebrity appearance” at Bristol’s Pop Up Piazza a few weeks ago. She added that having Foster at the clearinghouse is a great way for Connecticut residents to discover Connecticut Clearinghouse, and what it has to offer. Connecticut Clearinghouse is located at 334 Farmington Ave., Plainville.
In Bristol, at the new Thomaston Savings Bank on Middle Street, sits “Time Flies,” who was painted by Eva from E.K. Weymouth Designs. Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer, James R. Nichol, said in a statement that the bank “prides itself on its commitment to the communities we serve and we feel that the Ducks on Parade project aligns well with our mission of being a responsible corporate neighbor. We’re happy to be part of an art project that helps to build a sense of community, promotes tourism, and beautifies the towns and communities where the ducks will be on display.”
Nichol added the bank has heard positive feedback from visitors traveling around the city to find the ducks, and felt it was an enjoyable project to be able to involve our staff and a local artist at two of our branches – Bristol and Terryville.”
Also in Bristol, downtown developers Renaissance Downtowns also adopted “Downtown Ducky Brown,” who was painted by Brian Troccolo. Mark Walerysiak, community liaison to Renaissance Downtowns, said getting involved in the Duck Hunt is a great way to combine local artists and businesses in the area, to “do something that is really interesting and something of this scale that gives people something to look at, and also beautifies the area.”
The unique project, Walerysiak said, allows the public to look forward to art and talent on a local level, as well as incorporating that into the future of the downtown area.
“Hamilton” the duck also sits at the American Clock & Watch Museum in Bristol and was painted by Kyle Haines.
Executive Director at the museum, Jennifer Carroll, said the duck was sponsored by the Barnes Group in memory of Carlyle Fuller “Hap” Barnes, who passed away earlier this year.
“We are so gracious to be able to be sponsored and participate,” Carroll said, adding that the duck has generated a lot of foot traffic into the Clock & Watch Museum.
“We are part of a lot of community events downtown, and by being sponsored and participating, we get to be involved in one more community event,” she said. “It has been getting people through our door, and we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.”
The Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce is located at 200 Main St., Bristol, and for more information call (860) 584-4718.
By KAITLYN NAPLES